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Close encounters of the leadership kind: Developing school principals in South Africa. Inba Naicker Siphiwe Mthiyane Vitallis Chikoko. Leadership development.

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Close encounters of the leadership kind: Developing school principals in South Africa

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Close encounters of the leadership kind developing school principals in south africa

Close encounters of the leadership kind: Developing school principals in South Africa




Leadership development

Leadership development

  • The task of being a principal is demanding, requiring energy, drive and many personal qualities and attributes... The expectations of principals have moved from demands of management and control to the demands for an educational leader who can foster staff development, parent involvement, community support and learner growth and to succeed with major changes and expectations (Conley 2011) .



  • USA: more than 90% of the States require prospective school principals to complete state approved prep programme (Roberts, 2009).

  • In England, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) is mandatory for prospective school principals (Olsen, 2007).

South africa

South Africa

  • minimum qualification for school principalship: 3-year post matriculation teaching qualification (KZN Department of Education, 2008).

  • Experience: minimum of seven years in ed(KZN Department of Education, 2008).

  • Educator without prior formal leadership and mgt position- eligible for principalship.

  • places school administration, management, leadership and governance in hands of ‘technically’ unqualified personnel (Mathibe, 2007).

South africa cont d

South Africa cont’d

  • ACE (SL): initially for practising principals

  • Such principals-currently recognised as qualified

Research qs

Research Qs

  • Mother Q:

  • What can we learn from principals’ experiences RE: sch. Leadership devt?

  • Sub-Qs:

  • How did the school principals experience the ACE: SL programme?

  • What do they say have been the gains or lack thereof, of completing the ACE: SL programme?



  • qualitative study located within the interpretive research paradigm

  • Three focus group interviews: rural (4), urban (5), and township (4)

  • Average-one hour interview for each at agreed venue

  • Analysed through data-driven themes

  • Respondents code-named

Feelings re participating in ace

Feelings re: participating in ACE

  • I felt rather honoured to be chosen for the ACE leadership programme... [because] there is no training for principals. You train to become a teacher or an educator... This… programme where you are empowered to take on the duties and… of principal. (GT)

  • I was relieved that at last I might learn what to do as principal...

  • If I get the qualification I am going to get an extra [salary] notch. (BT)



  • You could use the theory and apply it to practice.

  • I feel that the time spent on the content did not do justice… there are so many aspects we just scratched the surface. We didn’t go in-depth and it is so important. (GT)

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning

  • We had one lecturer who was a head of department. We found her wanting... she should ask us about how you do this in school.

  • Those [lecturers] that came from the school background, who were ex-principals or practising principals did a good job because they spoke from experience

  • My mentor was not from an ex-model C school. In an ex-model C school there is so many management structures... The mentor needs to be somebody from the same type of school...

Teaching and learning cont d

Teaching and learning cont’d

  • Reflection has lots of benefits. You can’t write certain things in your log book but you can write your feelings in your reflective journal. It gave us an opportunity to reflect on our own practice. (GT)

  • In the classroom we were about twenty… thirty principals there… It is the combined knowledge of looking at the issues and seeking solutions that was a great opportunity.

Teaching and learning1

Teaching and learning

  • There was no feedback whatsoever.... In the first year we did not get any feedback. We did not even get our marks.

  • My entire management had a hand in my portfolio. Let us be honest it was the school in a way being assessed not the principal…

Value added

Value added?

  • Confidence... you can’t empower others if you are not empowered. I feel so much more confident and I think my staff can see this.

  • We had the knowledge but it was reawakened. It was like a renaissance in us....

  • In my opinion if you have a beautiful painting and it has got a horrible frame that will distract you from the painting. The ACE course was a very good painting but was spoilt by the lack of infrastructure... the communication and perhaps some tutors did spoil it. (GU)

Our story

Our story

  • Principalship qualification-seems the way forward

  • Combination of lectures, mentorship & portfolios-good; Ratios still unclear

  • Practising principal-very sensitive. Comes with lot of baggage

  • SA principals-not a homogeneous group

  • Incomplete until we gain knowledge about impact on school performance

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